Regional assessment of the resilience of water supplies and environmental resilience
There is growing concern about the resilience of water supplies in England, given the pressures of population growth, climate change, water quality challenges, different spatial stress patterns and the more extreme transitory nature of changes that the supply systems have to cope with. There is also concern about the sustainability and resilience of ecosystems that inhabit rivers and wetlands. These pressures are particularly acute in the South East of England which is highly populated, is less well endowed with water resources than some other parts of the country and is home to precious aquatic environments including chalk streams. To address these challenges, government, regulators and water companies have adopted a regional approach to water resource planning, which recognises the need for a broad-scale systems approach including the inter-dependence between neighbouring water companies. The approach is most developed in the South East and East of England, where pressures on water resources are most acute. Water Resources South East (WRSE) is an alliance of the six water companies that cover the South East region of England which is developing a collaborative, regional approach to managing water resources. The WRSE regional resilience plan will be used as a blueprint for water supply investment by each water company in the region.
WRSE and its constituent companies, including Thames Water, have already been responsible for research and innovation in pursuit of their resilience objectives, including through previous research projects in the University of Oxford. Furthermore, the University of Oxford has developed a national water resource system model, which includes the WRSE region, as well as more detailed models of the Thames catchment. There is already, therefore, a strong basis for further research. Several pressing research questions remain:
The research will involve a combination of statistical analysis (of groundwater and ecology) and hydrological modelling (of groundwater and surface water systems). It will suit students from any quantified background, including engineering, economics, physical and environmental sciences. Students should be able to demonstrate aptitude for computer modelling and enthusiasm to address real-world problems of great policy significance.
This project is sponsored as collaborative CASE award as part of the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership with the University of Oxford. UK applicants will be eligible for full funding including a CASE supplement to their stipend. Exceptional overseas applicants may also be considered for funding.
Applicants should address informal enquiries to Professor Jim Hall firstname.lastname@example.org.
There will be a two-stage assessment process, first involving an interview in Oxford with Professor Hall and representatives from Thames Water and WRSE. The preferred candidate will then have to pass the formal admissions process in the School of Geography and the Environment.
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